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Arson attack destroys radio station in Buenos Aires province

(FOPEA/IFEX) – The Argentine Journalism Forum (Foro de Periodismo Argentino, FOPEA) condemns the recent arson attack against 93.3 FM in Zarate, Buenos Aires province, which took place in the early morning hours of 30 September 2011. Despite the efforts of local firefighters, the radio station was completely destroyed. The station was able to resume broadcasting using alternate equipment.

According to José "Pepe" Beronda, the radio station's owner, the incident took place after 1 a.m. Security cameras on the premises recorded images of a man throwing fuel on the building and then lighting a fire. The fire started and spread quickly. Beronda filed a police report and indicated that the only thing that was able to be saved from the flames was a radio console. The building itself was completely destroyed. The fire department in Buenos Aires province will be responsible for the investigation.

Beronda said that in the security footage, the arsonist can be seen approaching the flames. His identity cannot be determined from the video because his face was covered. It is possible that he was treated in hospital for burns, or that evidence from the fire can be seen on his body or clothes.

"The radio station is in an apartment building where 90 other families live. This could have been a terrible tragedy. They were saved by the flame-proof panels that lined the studio," said Beronda. The complex also houses radio station 100.5 FM, which also went off the air because of the fire.

FOPEA condemns the attack against 93.3 FM as an attack on freedom of expression, and demands that the authorities investigate the attack and shed light on the incident.

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